Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
As the world warms over this century, the level of the oceans will rise almost everywhere in a non-uniform pattern. The increasing risk of flooding from higher sea levels, combined with potentially stronger coastal storms, poses a risk to urban areas along all coasts, particularly the U.S. Northeast coast.
In this lecture, Michael Oppenheimer will describe the physical mechanisms causing observed increases in sea level. He will describe sea level rise projections and their relation to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases. The credibility of projections is limited by our modest comprehension of the dynamics of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. This lecture presents an emerging approach to projecting sea level rise in the absence of fully credible models, along with resulting projections of regional sea level and flood risk increases worldwide. The talk will conclude with a discussion of lessons learned about managing and reducing coastal flood risk from recent episodes of extreme flooding, including a look at New York City’s response following Hurricane Sandy.